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Dealing with Disappointing Marks

Girl crying

It’s happened to all of us. Getting a bad mark (or a bad mark according to our perfectionist law student standards) sucks. Over the years I have had my fair share of disappointing marks, and although admittedly I may have shed a tear or two, I have developed a few positive strategies for dealing with the letdown of less than ideal marks…

1. Get feedback

Lecturers don’t bite, and many lecturers have consultation hours where they sit in their dark offices, probably playing Tetris and Bejewled Blitz (or so I imagine), waiting for students to call for assessment feedback.

Even if the final subject marks are in and there are no other assessments to worry about, feedback from a lecturer will help you to understand what you could have done differently – good advice about how to approach and structure your responses, for example, will help you in future subjects too.

2. Reflect on where you went wrong and use it as motivation

Although we hate to admit it, sometimes poor results can be the outcome of spending too much time on Facebook or leaving that major essay to the night before it was due. Although sometimes we can see these marks coming, it still hits as a hard reality check!

Before you start thinking that there is no hope and you may as well drop out of your law degree, think again. Bad marks can fuel motivation to improve, while consistent good marks can sometimes make some students lazy and complacent. Receiving a less than ideal mark can help you to reflect on where you went wrong and how you could improve for next time (for example, better time management or actually do the readings).

3. Appreciate the bigger picture

Sometimes receiving a bad mark in law can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve tried your best. At the end of the day a mark is just a number and you will need to take a deep breath and a step back. Seeing the bigger picture may mean appreciating that your overall weighted average mark wasn’t too dramatically affected by one bad semester, or taking comfort in knowing that some pass marks (or even an F) on your transcript won’t make you completely unemployable.

Often my best friend reminds me that Ps equal degrees, and although this doesn’t mean you need to lower your standards, it is sometimes useful to remind yourself that these bad marks are just hurdles to overcome in order to reach your final destination. So don’t be too hard on yourself!

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